Pirate etymology: sea dog

Grrr! by Jesper Egelund

Many believe the term stems from the dog-like appearance of the seal, while others claim it is grizzled old sailors. Both of these are correct, nautically speaking, but not when it comes to the pirate.

Pirates, and more particularly, privateers, became known as sea dogs after the astonishing career of Captain Rufus the Flatulent.

Captain Rufus was given his Letter of Marque by Henry VIII, and plied his trade in the English Channel, off the coast of Aquitaine, and wherever Henry was at war. The privateer campaign in Aquitaine was particular successful, and Captain Rufus took many a prize. (Henry always had a hard time getting these out of Rufus’s jaws, but he was easily distracted by the piles of cooked swan that Henry had lying around the castle.)

In fact, the etymology of the term begins in Aquitaine, where French merchantmen sailors would cry, upon seeing Rufus’s standard (a set of crossed bones), “sauve qui peu, c’est le chein du mer!” (Sometimes they would just wet themselves and jump in the ocean without shouting anything.)

This “cheien du mer” cry quickly became anglicized, and is the now-famous, “sea dog.”

Alltop Grrr!, a photo by Jesper Egelund on Flickr.

Fly the Flensing Skies

turbineIn the late 1960’s Albanian Airlines’ passengers had overwhelmingly rejected their, “only a sissy needs a seatbelt,” marketing slogan.

Their subsequent efforts were equally ineffective at increasing their revenues, including the following notions:

  • no alcohol or tobacco on our flights, but we provide scopolamine
  • bring your own seat (lawnchairs, hammocks, blankets acceptable)
  • we don’t mind goats, just share!

Finally, they discovered the magic of extortion.

Alltop will extort a laugh any way they can.

Miss Atomic Test, Las Vegas

1957 - Miss Atomic Test, Las Vegas via x-ray delta one

Like everyone, she was in shock.

But she had just narrowly avoided the disintegration of LA. She’d moved to Vegas the week before the war began, to work as a background dancer.

They found her the day after, in Vegas, getting ready for the show. She was starving as usual. Her figure just wouldn’t conform to the standards of the 2020s, and that meant not eating very much. Not that she felt like eating, after she’d seen some of the video of what remained of her home town.

They could change it all with a photo, they told her.

All they needed was for her to accept that she could be in two times in one place. It was a little thing, right? Like, you’re a gorgeous dancer who thinks she’s fat. The reality doesn’t change, just because your thinking is all wrong.

So she said yes, and the next day — after all the injections, and the strange machine — she woke up in 1954. She was a dancer at the Copa Room, at the Sands. She did a show with Frank Sinatra. Sammy Davis Jr. dropped in, and was a big hit. Everyone thought she was gorgeous, even though (she thought) she was a fat cow.

Eventually, she got comfortable with being desired by so many men, despite her obvious (to her) defects. She loosened up, though she was always quiet and reserved. Some of the other girls called her “the librarian”, but if they’d had the right words, they would have called her the cipher. She never mentioned her folks — she was intensely aware of the fact that they were not born yet, and she didn’t want to say anything to prevent their existence.

They hadn’t told her which photograph would be the right one. Funny, that the scientists should miss such an obvious detail, so she treated each snap with reverence and joy. “The secret,” the lead scientist had told her before she left the year 2024, “is your innocence and exuberance. When they take the shot, you have to exhibit that, above all.”

It was one of the things that made her more of a cipher than a librarian. Her reserve dissolved whenever a camera was produced, which was noticed by a Hollywood producer in 1956. He wanted to her to do a screen test in LA, but she turned him down flat.

They hadn’t said which photo would be the one, but the scientists hadn’t told her she needed to do movies.

When it happened a year later, she was in no doubt. The photo that would save the world had been taken.

And after that, she was (almost) free.

Alltop loves a little time travel! 1954 – Miss Atomic Test, Las Vegas, a photo by x-ray delta one on Flickr.

Before the Internet

before the internet

Normally, I just nod my head in agreement with xkcd, but in this case, I must take exception. Before the Internet, life was much more exciting. There were things to do — the hard way — and much to accomplish. Not to mention all the challenging people and situations we faced before the Internet was created. For example:

  • dinosaurs
  • Nazis
  • pirates (the eye-patchy kind)
  • ninjas
  • C.H.U.Ds (though to be fair we’re still plagued by these in certain areas)
  • dinosaur-riding ninja Nazis (I would really like to see a cartoon of that one, if any budding artist are out there)
  • librarians.

Just sayin’.

Update:
On the other hand, the Internet does deliver on the awesome. It wouldn’t take much to add a Nazi armband to the ninja, plus: robot pirate!

how the world ends - robot pirate fighting dinosaur-riding ninja

Alltop is the Internet librarian of funny. Pic by Ctrl + Alt + Del.